Today’s ‘Life Is Like A Box Of Records’ is from Brooklyn-based artist Matthew Bannister, aka The Beautiful Fear, whose debut album One is out now via Addictaclique. You can buy it on iTunes, or listen via Spotify now.
Here’s The Beautiful Fear’s record selection:
David Bowie – ‘Life on Mars’
I first saw God on Top of The Pops in the summer of 1973. I was six years old and I still remember my older brother’s jaw just hitting the ground as this amazing figure with this remarkable look delivered this song, which had a lyric about MARS! It was like watching an alien on TV and I wanted to be one. The song over the years has revealed its self to me to be a total masterpiece. The piano line that sinks at :35 with the strings and guitar is pure magic. Just when you think its impossible to write a better chorus than the verse he slays you at :52. The way he brings you back to the verse with the guitar solo at the end of the choruses. It’s absolute genius. My brother’s memory is of a performance even earlier for ‘Starman’…..which had a lyric about a ‘STARMAN’ ! It was one or the other…life changing stuff.
The Who – ‘We’re Not Going To Take It/See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You’
I was introduced to this classic album first as a film. It was the summer of 75 and I was 8 years old. It perhaps started my love of the concept album, and it had all sorts of rich characters in it, some of which help explain later events in my life. I remember trying to make the Elton John character out of G.I.Joe (Action Man) using toilet roll holder to extend his legs. That summer I took any opportunity to take my shirt off and run around (like Daltrey) with my arms outstretched. Hopefully my father was nearby with a camera! My particular love of this track is in the circular and repetitive nature of the ‘listening to you’ part. When that kicks in I could listen to it forever. I have chosen this live video version because at 5:59 Townshend, Moon and Entwistle break into probably one of the greatest moments in rock history. That is THE blueprint.
Pink Floyd – ‘Echoes part 1 and 2’ from Pink Floyd live at Pompeii
This particular performance of this beautiful song, in my opinion, cannot be topped. They are at their absolute peak. The setting is as conceptual as their art. I have spent so much of my life listening to this soundtrack and this track just wondering how they managed it in their late 20’s. This was a time when Dark Side of the Moon was being recorded. They knew they were onto something. You can see it on Gilmour’s face at 5:11. The octave harmony of Gilmour and Wright’s voices is a huge influence for me and I can never get enough of that lap steel and ebow guitar. If you haven’t seen this film, treat yourself. Then watch Beastie Boys ‘Gratitude’ video where they pay tribute to these giants.
Ramones – ‘Pinhead’
In my teens I saw the Ramones too many times to remember, and this track was one I always really looked forward to live. The completely counter intuitive, unresolved stop-start riffing and the Joey and Dee Dee pointing at each other with the “D-U-M-B everyone’s accusing me” were classic moments. I felt that sentiment was sung just for me! We always used to be up the front on the right in front of Dee Dee and while not shown in this film (which is shot at the Rainbow as part of the ‘It’s Alive’ recordings), a roadie with a Pinhead mask would bring out the banner “GABBA GABBA HEY”. It was all so weird and somewhat macabre. The song inspired by the film “Freaks”. Despite how odd the whole thing was, it all made sense to me as a self-alienated, Channel 11 horror film junkie, who just wanted something to do.
The Clash – ‘Guns Of Brixton’
Written and sung by the coolest cat in the history of rock and roll. This song has always been a particular favorite of mine. That fantastic bass line was one of the very first things I figured out on guitar however it was impossible to play and sing at the same time. It was sort of like tapping your head and rubbing your belly vibes. My brother took me to see the Clash at the Lyceum in 1981 and it all made sense when Strummer and Simonon swapped instruments so that Paul could sing it while Joe worked that bass line. What an absolutely fantastic band they were.
The Cure – ‘Figurehead’
I had seen the Cure as a 12 year in 1979 in Brussels. My brother took me and my sister and we sat and had a few beers with the band before the performance. Mark (my brother) sort of vaguely knew Lol Tolhurst somehow. Sitting and drinking with The Cure at the age of 12! Yeah….the trouble started early on! Anyhow, in May of 1982 I saw them again at the Hammersmith Odeon for the Pornography Tour. The minimal, brutal simplicity of it all, the vertical black hair and the red up lighting made such a visual aural impact on me. The tribal drumming and dry bass vibes made a perfect transition to the Hardcore that was just around the corner waiting for me. A few months later I moved to the US.
Minor Threat – ‘Minor Threat’
One Sunday afternoon in the Fall of 1982 a friend pulled up to my parents house in New Jersey and said, get in we are going into the city to see a ‘matinee’. “You’ll like the band they play Stepping Stone”. The gig turned out to be Minor Threat at CBGBs. This event radically changed my life for the next handful of years. It was like entering an alternate universe and the NYHC scene became a second home for me, seeing hundreds of shows all advertised by word of mouth and Xerox handouts. Shows in people’s basements in NJ and Long Island etc. It was a real subculture, something that doesn’t exist in any form today. If you counted the number of people who said they were at this particular show, you’d need a venue five times the size of CBs. I was there and feel very lucky indeed. Real history. Thanks Bill Dolan, you could have just driven straight past my house.
The Larks – ‘Pain in the Neck’
This was my brothers’ band in the 80s. It was always such a special treat to fly back to England and see them live in London. I have seen a lot of live acts and without any familial bias The Larks in their day were hard to beat. They had a solid cult following and their sold out shows at venues like the Marquee were legendary. Going on tour with them are some of the best memories of my life. This for me is very nostalgic. The innocence of this video brings a sincere smile to my face. John Peel used to play their “Maggie Maggie Maggie Out Out Out” track to close out his show. Proud brother… Enough said.
Primal Scream – ‘Loaded’
I was at a party in upstate NY summer of 1990. Being pre Internet and going to college in the middle of nowhere I had lost touch with the British music scene. The last thing I was familiar with was probably Morrissey. I even missed the Roses until about this time. Anyhow. This track came on, and we just played it on repeat for hours, dancing and getting “loaded”. I remember waking up the next day, in a rough way needing to find out what the track was. I instinctively knew my haircut was wrong and so were the clothes I was wearing. Something was coming and it was going to be very big indeed.
HeadAche – ‘B*ckering’
And here we turn full circle. This is a fantastic new song from my nephew’s band. Great hardcore riffing, solid hooking and they manage to creatively shoehorn more four-letter words into a chorus than the Anti Nowhere League. I unfortunately haven’t seen them live yet. Hopefully they will tour the US soon enough and I can be the proud uncle. Johnny who writes a lot of the material actually makes a cameo on my record in the song ‘Ambien and the Rockabye Zombie Puppet Show’. He is also professional Insomniac; it’s in the blood along with the bar chords riffery.
One, the debut album from The Beautiful Fear, is out now via Addictaclique.